Author: Linda Howard
Genre/Historical Period: Contemporary
Grade/Rating: Not As Bad As Death Angel
Summary/Review: Titanic Meets Category Romance
Part of a Series?: Concentrate And Ask Again
Would I recommend this book?: I wouldn't knock it out of your hands and scream "RUN"
You know, if I hated Burn the title itself would write the review. Given the last few books Linda Howard has written, I think it's pretty brave to call a book Burn (especially since it has just about jack all to do with the content). Then again, given that her next book is called Ice, this might just be some publisher branding meme. Burn is two stories at once, and it is neither great nor terrible, it straddles the fence of lost opportunity and tries not to fall off. So there are going to have to be spoilers, right?
We meet our heroine, Jenner (right away you know her parents are loons) as she struggles home from her dead end job at the meat packing factory. If you've ever been poor, working a dead end job, or exhausted while some good looking loser expects you to bring home the beer, you'll find that Jenner's exhaustion rings completely true. Here I got excited because for the first time in a long time Howard wasn't giving me a beautiful buffed gal living in luxury with a few problems on the side. Finally we were back in reality land with a hard working woman driving a beat down car and standing in the Michelob line on a Friday night. Prince Charming was due with his tool belt any second, right?
Wrong. Jenner wins Powerball. Sure, she calls it the lottery, but with a 300 mil payout, those of us on the Michelob line know what game she was really playing. It stays interesting because Jenner sensibly panics and takes the reader through all the post win steps you never think about. Like it taking months for the money to show up, and most winners blowing it all on craft beer and hookers. But not Jenner, cause it's not even her beer. She finds herself an up and coming lesbian (no, really, and may I say a huge thank you to Howard for bucking the trend of introducing gay characters just to kill them or have them turn evil?) and invests that cash like woah. Meanwhile, everyone in her cobbled together life proves themselves unstable and desert her.
(Let's take a moment to examine the class warfare that's about to go into play. Before Best Pal uses her for money, and having lots of money makes her see that. But her After Best Pal uses her for a backbone, and that's ok. Being used for money BAD. Being used as an emotional crutch GOOD. Since Jenner never goes poor, she doesn't really have to worry about how her new BFF would relate to a meat packer, does she?)
Alright, so Jenner gets rich but not happy. She discovers that taxes suck and tax breaks are not as plentiful on the ground as she'd been led to think, and that having money is actually quite a burden on
Ok, so in the second book, Jenner is held captive by one of those lawless dudes that Ms. Howard likes almost as much as her "barely wet" fast, um, expressions of love. And her condoms. Seriously, this guy (whose name I already forgot - I think it's Cael but I kept calling him Caul like it was some kind of hoodrat thing) has coworkers who pass condoms out to people they think should sleep together. Can you imagine? You walk by your boss and you say "Hey buddy, I saw how you and marketing were eyeing each other - Catch! I brought you crazy kids a prezzie!! Its got a vibrating ring!" Yea, there's employment security. Anyway, she meets him, he's kinda hot, he kidnaps her so he's not so hot, she thinks he might rape her so he's REALLY not hot, he makes it clear that he's aware of the power disparity and No Rape Will Happen In This Book, No Matter How Alpha I Am, and things settle down to the plot. This would have been a most awesome plot except the bad guy totally tells you everything bad he's going to be doing. And it's awesome bad. It's so bad you want him to succeed and the whole book to be about them trying to stop it and the slow unfolding of events and the aftermath on all of them who survive and how it affects them and.... right, well, not so much the way it happens.
They don't even figure out what's going on until the very last section of the book. It's all Julie and Gopher and Lido deck shenanigans while a kidnapping contract worker and his really wealthy but spiritually lost captive find their way to each other through her savvy intellect and his willingness to be seduced. Then suddenly, pretty much by accident, they find out the bad guy is wanting to go all Titanic so Celine Dion will write songs for him, and it's a rush to save anyone they can. Which is kinda awesome but way too short. And there's no clean up - it's Wow! We are in DANGER and then it's DANGER ON and then it's Danger Over, Six Months (or whateves) Later. They don't even float in the water and think about which person they'd eat if they got, like, really hungry and people had to be eaten. Or have to explain to the Coast Guard why Titanic is being recreated in warm tropical waters.
It's not a bad read, it's kind of an enjoyable read in several places. As a whole, it's incomplete. I wouldn't buy it in hardcover but as a library book I'd totally do it once.